18 September 2011

Between a Bridge and a Pub

There are two planning applications being considered at the present time that in theory could have repercussions for the area in which I live. I speak of the application to erect a rather large wind turbine at Riddian Bridge and the conversion of the old Avion Cinema to a Weatherspoons Pub.

I have mixed feelings about both.

To me wind turbines resemble the windmills of old and are really quite beautiful when seen out at sea from a shore nearby. Even some of those sited on wind swept hills seem to lift some quality from below and make me smile. So I'm not against them per se. Let’s face it we desperately need to obtain our energy from environmentally clean and sustainable sources. The prospect of more nuclear energy terrorises me but that’s just me!

In Walsall we are blessed with some lovely nature reserves and green spaces but there are few beautiful views unless you stand on top of Barr Beacon, which if you haven’t done you should do! The views from Riddian Bridge and towards it too are pleasant and about as rural as you can get in an urban borough such as Walsall, which is where my mixed feelings come into play. I suspect that once it’s been built I will grow to like the turbine every bit as much as others I have admired but I admit to a niggle.

As to the Avion, well to save the 1930s building from the curse of the Walsall Firestarter would be a noble and fine thing but my misgivings here are based upon experience of what has gone before.

With The Elms having gone to being a Crown Carvery it really is no longer a traditional pub and Aldridge could do with a decent central pub open to all. However there is a reason The Elms went the way it did and I witnessed the reasons on a Friday or Saturday night far too often. A casual drink, listening to a live band, a little bop to the tracks played by a DJ became undesirable with the youngsters, unable to handle their earlier home consumed Alcopops etc on top of what was then consumed on the premises, causing madness and mayhem. There was a good reason for all those employed on security duties.

The Elms gained the sort of reputation that had previously been the preserve of The Hop and Grape (or Hope and Grope as it was known locally) until its closure some years ago now. Despite attempts by decent people to manage what happened within, it became a place to avoid and one poor man was murdered in an alley just over the road after being followed out of the pub.

Neither place was the preserve of just the locals, both attracted custom from a much wider area and I always used to wonder what it was that went through a non-local’s mind when deciding that Aldridge was the place for a Friday or Saturday night out!

So both applications have their good points for me but both bring negatives. Que sera…..

A rural view over fields very close to Riddian Bridge. Taken in May 2011


  1. I don't think what happened in Aldridge when you
    were young should colour what happens now if you
    visit any Wetherspoon pub you will find a well
    run clean quite family environment with good food
    also you do not have to drink beer or wine the coffee is of a very high standard,Over the last
    10 years I have visited 50 wetherspoon pubs during
    the day also at night and have not seen any bad
    behavour,This could become a focal point for the
    people of Aldridge to use

  2. What I've described as happening at the Hope and Grape was within the last 10 years. The events at the the Elms within the last 3 years. I was young in the 70s and 80s when young people knew how to handle their drink! Seriously I'm sure the proposed pub could be a very welcome addition to the town but I have reservations based upon recent experience.